Heritage Forum

Stirling Prize winner

Oct 9, 2013 | Forum, News

A home inside the burnt-out ruin of a twelfth-century castle has been awarded the 2013 Stirling Prize for architecture. The prize is awarded by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) for any building in the European Union by an architect who is a member of RIBA.

This year’s winner is AstleyCastle, which was on the list of at risk buildings since it was gutted by fire in the 1970s. In its day it served as the home of three queens, a parliamentary garrison during the British civil war and a hotel, according to the Guardian.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder described it as an “exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument”. The value lies in the fact that this was not a conventional restoration project but placing an “unbelievably powerful contemporary house which is expertly intertwined with 800 years of history” inside the ruin. AstleyCastle was restored by commission of English Heritage and will in future be leased as a holiday home.

Although old buildings on the European continent have been restored (or added to) in this manner “for years” (think of Castelvecchio in Verona by Carlo Scarpa or Sverre Fehn’s Hedmark Cathedral museum), Rory Olcayto, assistant editor of The Architect’s Journal thinks this year’s  winner will introduce a turning point in the way in which the UK regards historic buildings.

Bishop-Edward-King-Chapel_lord_patten_of_barne_635Initially, the expectation was that Niall McLaughlin’s Bishop Edward King chapel in Oxfordshire would win the prize, a sentiment that was reflected by bookmakers.

Concerning the shortlist, Rowan Moore (Observer) wrote that, for the first time in a very long time, the concern was not with the iconic. The various architects also did not have the star status that had dominated the shortlist for a very long time – Moore, however, does not underestimate their abilities. “The Stirling offers a version of the British Isles where architecture is above all well made and subtle, and at one with both nature and history.”

The other buildings on this year’s se shortlist were:

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